How to Study Crashing and Fast Tracking for the PMP Certification?
project manager is well aware that schedules are continuously changing. And,
sadly, plans rarely grow shorter; they tend to get longer! Alternatively, your
consumer desires an expedited delivery. And now, what appeared to be an
excellent timeline at the start of the project has devolved into a complete
mess, and you will never be able to complete it on time!
Unless, of course, you act immediately by crashing or fast tracking.
That is the subject of this article, which will cover all you need to know about both strategies in preparation for the Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam.
Crashing and Fast Tracking Are Two Techniques for Compressing the Schedule
Schedule compression is used to reduce the time of a project without altering its scope.
This is advantageous if you have fallen behind the initial schedule and now need to "catch up," or if you wish to complete the project sooner because a competitor is developing a similar product. You want to be first to market. Additionally, completing a project sooner than scheduled initially may be a strategic decision depending on other factors.
You must understand two schedule compression approaches to pass the PMP® Exam:
Increase the resources allocated to your project to expedite its completion. Almost invariably, there is a financial cost associated with crashing.
Perform tasks in parallel to finish them more quickly. This type of job overlap frequently increases risks.
Compression of the schedule should always be focused on the critical route of the project, as the critical path defines the project's finish date. And if you want to complete your project sooner, it makes little sense to compress operations without bearing on the project's completion date.
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What is Fast Tracking?
Fast Tracking Definition
A schedule compression technique in which activities or phases normally done in sequence are performed in parallel for at least a portion of their duration.
Fast tracking is accomplished by rescheduling various activities within the project to be executed concurrently rather than sequentially. Whenever possible, begin with this strategy. Why? Because there are no associated costs. Essentially, you're "merely altering the schedule."
However, this strategy is only applicable if activities can be overlapped effectively.
For instance, it is possible to begin prototyping even if the design specifications are not quite finalized. You may overlap them as long as a sufficient number of specs have been developed to start prototyping.
Fast tracking carries the potential of encountering issues if parallel aspects of the project contain dependencies. In this example, the risk is that you will need to redo the prototype if the design changes mid-process. However, if the design remains stable, production can begin considerably sooner.
Thus, the project manager must balance risk and opportunity.
Fast Tracking Example
You're checking your project's schedule and discover that the project's completion deadline has gone past the date promised. You need to re-establish the order without incurring further costs.
A thorough study reveals three actions that might be started sooner to expedite the project's completion:
- After integration testing is complete but before final sign-off, end-user documentation can begin.
- If the first three sessions can be educated using the test system, user training sessions can begin before the final system being configured and installed.
- The final system's configuration and installation might begin three days before testing is completed.
Each of these suggestions will help you meet your deadline but will also increase the project's risk. As the project manager, it is your obligation to analyze the alternatives and decide which (or all) of them will be used to compress the timetable.
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What is Crashing?
A technique used to shorten the schedule duration for the least incremental cost by adding resources.
When using the crashing technique, any additional costs associated with accelerating the project are weighed against the potential benefits of completing it sooner. More factors to consider while employing the crashing strategy include increasing project resources, providing for additional overtime, paying extra to expedite delivery of crucial components, etc.
Crashing works only if additional resources enable you to accomplish the project more quickly. For example, crashing will not operate if "the concrete in the foundation must dry for three days."
You are in charge of a project to update your organization's regulations. The new law takes effect on June 30th, and each day your organization is delayed will result in a government-imposed fee. You've already optimized and simplified the project's timetable to the maximum extent possible, but additional optimization appears impossible without drastic measures.
You and the project sponsor agree during a discussion that the primary limitation is completing the project on time. Additional funding will need to be requested.
- You do a critical path analysis.
- You identify all jobs that the use of additional resources could streamline.
- You calculate the cost and number of days saved by adding additional resources for each task.
- You determine the least expensive course of action.
- You offer the sponsor a crash budget and an updated schedule.
Crashing vs. Fast Tracking
The reality of project management is that you will occasionally need to compress the project timetable to provide the product, service, or result ahead of schedule. Schedules are constantly changing; in most situations, they become longer rather than shorter, which can have a detrimental effect on the initial schedule because the project team will not complete it within the allotted time.
There is no reason to fast track or crash any activities that are not on the critical path—you will gain no time on your overall timetable if your critical path cannot be shortened.
Fast tracking entails the execution of multiple tasks concurrently, whereas crashing entails adding resources to a project.
There is an increased danger associated with fast tracking, but there is an increased expense associated with crashing.
With a better understanding of the schedule compression approaches of fast tracking and crashing, their advantages and disadvantages, and the conditions in which they can be used, we're confident you'll see results in no time.
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